Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that bans abortion at conception, making Oklahoma the state with the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation.
The bill bans any procedures that “cause the death of an unborn child,” which it defines as a “human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.” The new law immediately went into effect after Stitt signed it.
The law, House Bill 4327, prohibits physicians from performing abortions at any point in a pregnancy, unless it is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life. The law includes exemptions if the pregnancy is the result of rape, sexual assault or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.
Private citizens, under the new law, can file civil lawsuits up to $10,000 against anyone who performs or assists in performing an abortion. However, it does not allow the woman seeking an abortion to be sued.
The Oklahoma Legislature passed several anti-abortion bills this legislative session, including Senate Bill 612 and Senate Bill 1503.
SB 612 makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions. Doctors who perform abortions face up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. It goes into effect in late August.
SB 1503, also known as the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, is a Texas-style anti-abortion law that opens up physicians to civil lawsuits if they perform abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo – around six weeks of pregnancy. It immediately went into effect after Stitt signed it.
Hours after Stitt signed the new law, the Center for Reproductive Rights announced that it and Planned Parenthood would file a lawsuit to block the law after it went into effect upon Stitt’s signature Wednesday.
“For anyone seeking abortion in Oklahoma and beyond: Planned Parenthood and our partners are fighting for you,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “We will bring everything we have to make sure you can get the care you need, and challenge every ban enacted in Oklahoma.”
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